Best alternatives to Zoom for video conferencing

The Zoom video conferencing app has become a hugely popular way to stay in touch, for both personal and professional meetings, in a world that is increasingly isolated during the coronavirus pandemic. However, in late March/early April, a number of complaints surfaced about Zoom’s privacy and security record as more and more people flocked to the platform and a brighter spotlight shone on how it works and what data it can collect.

We recently rounded up some of the free video conferencing apps available, including Zoom. Because there were so many questions about Zoom’s security, we decided to restart the roundup this time by excluding Zoom and adding other apps you can use instead. (However, keep in mind that since this article was originally published on April 1, Zoom has added a number of features and updates to address the complaints.)

As before, it’s worth noting that while all of these have free versions, some currently offer temporary access to additional features for those who work from home or want to check in on friends and relatives online.

There are a number of apps that we do not include, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and FaceTime, that allow you to video chat; It requires either all participants to be members (Facebook, WhatsApp) or use a certain type of device (FaceTime which is Apple only). The list below includes more generalized apps that allow you to join the app without actually signing up (unless you’re the host).

Skype Meet Now


Skype has been the platform of choice for one-on-one conversations since its beta version was released in 2003. The Meet Now feature (accessed by selecting the “Meet Now” button on the left side of the app) allows video conferencing; According to the website, the maximum number of participants may vary depending on your platform and device.

There’s also a separate page that lets you set up a free video meeting without actually having to sign up for the service. However, you get more features by using the app, so if you’re having trouble signing up for a free account, you’d better do it.

Notable features

  • Save search for up to 30 days
  • Can blur background (if you have app)
  • Share presentations

Cisco Webex

Cisco Webex

Webex is a video conferencing application that has been around since the 90s; It was acquired by Cisco in 2007. Although it’s mainly known as a business app and continues to focus on serving companies, there’s a pretty generous free version worth checking out. For the current emergency, it expanded the features of the freemium version from 50 to 100 participants, got rid of the 40-minute limit on meetings, and added paging capabilities.

Notable features

  • up to 100 participants
  • Unlimited scheduling for each meeting
  • Search for sound

Google Meet

Google Meet

Until recently, Google Meet (formerly Hangouts Meet) was only available to educators and subscribers to Google’s paid service, G Suite. Google announced that it will also make Meet available to users of the free Gmail service from the beginning of May. (As Google is in the habit, it will roll out the service in a few weeks, so it may take some time to reach your account.)

When Meet launches, it should be a simple way to video chat with colleagues, friends, and family – a requirement for hosts and attendees alike, assuming they all have Google accounts. To get started, go to Meet, click “Join or start a meeting”, give the meeting a name (if desired) and send your invitations. You can also schedule a meeting using Google Calendar, and Google includes: a host of security features like the ability to accept or reject input.

Notable Features

  • Unlimited call time until September 30; after that, the 60-minute limit
  • up to 100 participants


Google Hangouts

If you don’t want to wait for Meet to appear for Gmail users, Google Hangouts (“classic” version) is still available, although the company isn’t promoting it specifically for G Suite users and enterprise customers. You are encouraged to use Meet.

All that being said, if you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can use Hangouts for video chat. up to 10 people. There are not many additional features. You can add text messages and share screens, but that’s it. Still, if you want it quick and easy, this is worth checking out.

  • up to 10 participants
  • Voice calls can have up to 150 participants


star leaf

Unless you’re a company, you may not have heard of StarLeaf; it’s a platform for large companies — the kind they don’t quote prices on their websites; you need to call a salesperson. But now it’s offering its essential video and messaging product for free for those trying to stay in touch during the pandemic.

Notable features

  • up to 20 participants
  • Forty-six minutes per meeting

Meet Jitsi

Meet Jitsi

Another “you probably haven’t heard of” video conferencing app, Jitsi Meet is an open source platform that lets you meet online easily by going to the site and clicking the “Go” button. If you’re more technically inclined, you can build your own tool by: Jitsu Video Bridgehowever, most people will appreciate the fast web version, which offers many of the features found in better-known apps, such as chat, session recording (to Dropbox), and the ability to “throw” unruly participants.

  • Up to 75 participants (up to 35 for the best experience)
  • Public or private chat
  • Can blur the background (currently in beta)
  • Integrates with Slack, Google Calendar, and Office 365



The free version of Whereby is quite limited compared to the others mentioned here; It enables the use of a single meeting room for up to four participants, along with the ability to lock rooms (participants must “click” to log in). Each room has its own URL to choose from, which is great – assuming no one else has taken that name. (For example, I tried and found taken before.) But it also has a chat function, lets you share a screen, mute or mute users, and has some fun emojis. If you have more people in mind, the Pro version ($9.99 per month) offers up to 12 participants per room in three meeting rooms.

  • Up to four participants in the free version
  • Screen sharing
  • YouTube integration
  • Ability to “lock” rooms

more alternatives

There are a wide variety of other Zoom alternatives, as listed below. this Twitter threadincluding RemoteHQ, Chattering, High-fiveand 8×8. Some of these do not have a free version; For example, the more well-known option, BlueJeans, starts at $9.99 per month for unlimited-duration meetings of up to 50 participants.

Special mention should be made of Houseparty, a popular consumer app that lets up to eight people use a virtual room to chat. In fact, anyone can break into a friend’s online session uninvited (but you can “lock” your room to prevent intruders). However, it does require all attendees to register to use it – and registration includes your name, email address, date of birth, and phone number. That’s why we didn’t include it in our recommendations.

Video meetings with chat apps

Many of us already use Slack and/or Microsoft Teams with limited video meeting features. If you’re wondering if you can use a free version of Slack or Teams to host a video chat, here’s some info:


Slack is mostly set up for text chat, but it also gives you the ability to make audio and video calls. If you’re on the free version of Slack, you can video call a person. However, if you want to host a meeting between several people rather than one-on-one and do it for free, you’ll need to look for an alternative.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams was clearly built as a competitor to Slack. It’s a good idea if you want to collaborate on various Office documents, for example, as it’s part of the Microsoft app ecosystem. Currently, Microsoft offers a free version of Team with video conferencing. A tip: Don’t select “For friends and family” when you sign up and it asks you how you want to use Teams. It will just redirect you to Skype.

Update May 1, 11:00 ET: This article has been updated to add Google Meet and update a few of the other entries.

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